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Justice League of America #39 [Review]

Reunion

Writer: James Robinson
Pencils: Mark Bagley
Inks: Rob Hunter
Colors: Pete Pantazis
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover: Bagley, Hunter & Pantazis
Assoc. Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics

I’m not familiar with the “Detroit League,” and don’t really have much interest in it offhand. However–as with many of the other Blackest Night tie-ins–that doesn’t really hamper the story in this issue all that much. Certainly there are some subtleties that are lost on me for lacking background knowledge of certain characters. But at its heart, ultimately, this is still a good, solid story involving a character with “history” rising to cause grief with those still living.

While Red Tornado, Zatanna, Dr. Light and crew arrive on the sattelite to see what happened, they’re confronted by Vibe (of the Detroit League), Zatarra (Zatanna’s father) and Dr. Light (the guy who raped Sue Dibny, and got his mind mucked with for his trouble, ultimately leading to Identity Crisis and whatnot). The individual confrontations are fairly interesting, though the most disturbing is the meeting of the Drs. Light, and what has befallen Firestorm’s girlfriend. Though it got incredibly annoying trying to read the backwards-speak of Zatanna and Zatarra and I was taken out of the story entirely by the thought, I had a good chuckle when I realized their battle had all but come down to a “yo mamma” spitting contest, their magic given power by what they said: “Disregard what she said!” “No, disregard what HE said!” “No, disregard what SHE said!”

It seems obvious that Robinson knows these characters well, and has a good handle on them–whatever my feelings of the various “eras” of the JLA and such, he crafts an engaging story. Particularly with Zatara, it’s obvious that his fullest potential as a Black Lantern can’t be allowed to be reached and that he’s–like Psycho Pirate–perhaps one of the greatest weapons in the Black Lanterns’ arsenal.

The art is also quite good, and though I’m not yet all that used to Bagley’s art in the DCU, I like it already–and somehow, it reminds me just a bit of Dan Jurgens’ work, which is certainly a plus in my book.

This issue’s by no means an essential part to the core Blackest Night saga…but it’s still a solid read and well worth getting if you’re interested in the Drs. Light or the Detroit League, or just seeing Robinson/Bagley’s take on ’em.

This feels like a very stand-alone sort of story within the title, where it could almost be Blackest Night: Justice League of America #1 rather than #39 of the ongoing series. Though buying the issues for the tie-in to Blackest Night, I’m not convinced there’s enough here to truly, properly “sell” one on the title itself. But as this is only the first of a two-part story, there’s no telling what the next chapter may do.

Recommended.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 7.5/10

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Batman and Robin #5 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 2/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 2.5/5

Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #2 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Final Crisis #7 [Review]

New Heaven, New Earth

Script: Grant Morrison
Pencils: Doug Mahnke
Inks: Tom Nguyen, Drew Geraci, Christian Alamy, Norm Rapmund, Rodney Ramos, Doug Mahnke & Walden Wong
Colors: Alex Sinclair w/Tony Avina & Pete Pantazis
Lettering: Travis Lanham
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover: JG Jones (sliver cover by Marco Rudy & Sinclair)
Publisher: DC Comics

So, this is it. This is the issue it’s all been building toward–the final chapter of this “final crisis” the characters are facing, this “event” capping off years of story…

Much like Marvel’s Secret Invasion final issue, this issue jumps ahead, and instead of us experiencing the story as it progresses, with the characters–instead we’re treated to a look-back from the present to a conclusion that’s already happened. We see characters rise against their Fifth-World gods and the intrusion of Mandrakk, and a multiverse’s army of Supermen, and…stuff happens.

The art in the issue isn’t all that bad. In fact, in and of itself it’s actually pretty good. Though there’s a whole bunch of inkers, the final result is a decent presentation. I went in with very low expectations, and what I got managed to stay a bit above my expectations–though I also found myself not really focusing terribly much on the art (didn’t expect to be impressed, so didn’t care to look for something to be impressed BY).

The story fits with the rest of the series in tone and feeling like it’s trying to come from somewhere above my reading level, and successfully makes me feel lost, whatever else it accomplishes there. While elements of this core series could be found in the tie-ins, on the whole, the entirety of the Final Crisis was told in 7 issues, this one mini-series. While that made it easier on the wallet, I feel like it did a large injustice to the scope of the story. Had it crossed into a large number of the DC books as Infinite Crisis did, this would have felt like a bigger deal. As it is, it felt like some apocalyptic (no pun intended) story with these characters with no real basis in ongoing continuity. That books are to make the “jump” to reflect what happened in Final Crisis later doesn’t really do much for me (but at least the story will be acknowledged).

I’m sure there’s “deep” stuff going on here with loads of potential for future exploration…but the feel just wasn’t there for me. I did not enjoy this issue, and the series as a whole has been bittersweet–I can’t see having skipped on it, but nor have I particularly enjoyed any of the issues. (The tie-in minis’ issues are another story).

Story: 5/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 6/10

Justice League of America #29 [Review]

Star Struck!

Guest Writer: Len Wein
Penciller: Chris Cross
Inkers: Rob Stull w/Chris Cross
Colorist: Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover: Ed Benes & Hi-Fi
Publisher: DC Comics

Breaking from the storyline introducing Milestone characters to the DCU, this Faces of Evil issue focuses on Starbreaker.

…Who is a character I don’t think I’d ever heard of before seeing this issue at the store this week.

The character narrates his history to the reader, recounting how he first came to fight the JLA and then to make his way to Earth for revenge. After the JLA has defeated him, he finds himself in company of another villain whose name I do recognize.

The art for this issue is a solid mix of “classic” and “contemporary”–it pulls off the appearance of a contemporary comic, while also hinting at a silver age visual style for the characters (and page layout). It’s been awhile since I’ve seen Chris Cross’s work (I remember enjoying his work on the Genis-Vell Captain Marvel series from Marvel a few years back), and I’m glad to say that it does not disappoint me here at all.

The story on the other hand does not work for me. I appreciate the writer’s background, but did not feel this the place to showcase his work. There is a VERY silver-age feel to the story that does not serve in its favor (unlike the origin for Libra in the Final Crisis Secret Files). To be honest, it took me two attempts to get through this issue–I got a few pages in the first time and set this aside where it waited until I’d read all my other new comics for the week, and then finished this off on principle.

I’ve seen nothing obvious stating how long an arc is in this title, but was expecting at least one more chapter of the Milestone arc–strike #1 against this. That this was a guest-written gig–basically a one-shot, I presume–this should have been Faces of Evil: Starbreaker as a standalone instead of an issue of Justice Leaue of America…strike #2 against this.

If you’re interested in a one-off tale with a silver-age feel about this apparently “classic” villain, this issue will probably be very much to your liking. If you’re checking the title out JUST for the Milestone characters, they’re not in this issue at all so you could skip this without missing any of that stuff.

Story: 3/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 5.5/10

Final Crisis #6 [Review]

How to Murder the Earth

Script: Grant Morrison
Art: JG Jones, Carlos Pacheco, Doug Mahnke, Marco Rudy, Christian Alamy, Jesus Merino
Colors: Alex Sinclair & Pete Pantazis
Lettering: Rob Clark Jr.
Assoc. Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover: JG Jones (sliver cover by Pacheco, Merino & Sinclair)
Publisher: DC Comics

This sixth issue opens with a scene featuring Superman and Brainiac 5…presumably our Legion of 3 Worlds link. Brainiac has something he needs Superman to see, and Superman’s concerned because he’s been beyond reality and has to get home (no mention of Lois). We then cut back to a gathering of heroes doing what they do, and the Supergirl/”Black Mary” battle (we find out who’s pulling Mary’s strings). Heroes find themselves facing friends and loved ones now under Darkseid’s thumb; the Flashes hatch a plan, and Batman breaks one of his personal rules in order to face Darseid. Finally, Superman enters the battle on Earth, bringing with him anger not often displayed.

The art jumped out at me for this issue–unfortunately, though, not a good thing. Rather than the fairly distinct JG Jones art alone, we have a number of other artists brought on to get this done, and so there is quite a bit of variance in the visuals throughout the issue–this looks like just another comic instead of a singular, special event/series. The art in and of itself isn’t all that bad–characters familiar to casual readers are familiar and recognizeable. The Tawky Tawny battle, though, was a bit hard to follow, and took me a bit beyond the battle itself before I even realized who won the fight. While I’m sure intended for dramatic effect, a key double-page shot toward the end looks almost comical (in a “ha, ha” sort of way) and seems almost out of place in this title given other events that have ocurred off-panel and been referred back to almost as an afterthought.

The story is far from wonderful, but it is serviceable, at least on the surface. We get a number of scene-jumps without much flow, just jumping from one scene to the next. One has to keep track visually of what and who is where as the Supergirl/Mary battle is cut with the Tawny battle, for example. The main Batman scene comes across like it’s supposed to be reminiscent of a certain speedster in a prior Crisis, and for this reader felt forced and overly predictable.

On the whole, due to one character’s fate apparently shown here, this issue is pretty important to DC continuity, at least for the moment. However, this is an issue I read more to seek a conclusion to Batman: RIP and in the hopes of staying somewhat current with the most major goings-on of the DCU than out of enjoyment. This is one of those comics that is probably going to wind up being pretty “essential” to the bigger picture in the DCU…though it lacks the feel I’d expect for something of its supposed enormity.

Recommended for its necessity in the DCU-to-come, but not for the story and art.

Story: 5/10
Art: 3/10
Whole: 4/10

Justice League of America #28 [Review]

Welcome to Sundown Town Chapter 2: Shadow and Act

Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Penciller: Jose Luis
Inks: JP Mayer
Color: Pete Pantazis
Letters: Travis Lanham
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover: Ed Benes w/Hi-Fi
Publisher: DC Comics

I wasn’t gonna pick this up. I was gonna content myself with waiting for a collected volume, or just waiting for the Milestone characters to pop up in other books. But curiosity got the better of me, and so I picked this up after all.

There’s not much of a plot here–the bulk of the issue is a lengthy fight scene between the League and the Shadow Cabinet. However, toward the end of the issue theres a slight bit of a twist that both bucks cliche and yet manages to play right in familiar old cliche none the less.

I find myself much more interested in finding out more about the Milestone characters than I am about the Justice League, and so am possibly more disappointed in this issue than I should be. I would gladly (and with enthusiasm) picked up a mini-series re-introducing these characters that guest-starred members of the Justice League; as it is, the Milestone characters don’t get enough focus-time in this issue (though they get far more than in the previous one). I’m also quite interested in the Icon/Superman interaction(s).

The art here–while not Benes–is quite good, and similar enough to Benes’ work that I thought nothing of the art until I looked at the credits, and realized that sure enough, this wasn’t Benes. I was particularly impressed with the final page–which also has me sufficiently hooked as to pick up the next issue more than likely.

All in all, not a bad issue. Worth getting if you want to see the Milestone characters that are appearing in this arc.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 8/10

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